The truth about sunscreen

Our modern-day “love affair” with the suntan began nearly a century ago as a status symbol of leisure, wealth and beauty. But today, with so much knowledge of the sun’s power to harm and prematurely age skin, we’re turning to safer, sunless alternatives, and embracing the ultimate answer to this beauty paradox—protection and prevention with broad spectrum sunscreen.  The Truth about sunscreen:

Not all sunscreens are created equal? Understanding how they work is key.

  • Use a broad spectrum sunscreen. It blocks both types of the sun’s rays: UVB (responsible for sunburns) and UVA rays (the deep, aging kind) from penetrating skin.
  • Double the SPF doesn’t equal double protection. The SPF number refers to the sunscreen’s ability to block out UVB rays only. When applied as directed, SPF 15 blocks 93% of UVB rays, SPF 30 blocks 97% of UVB rays and SPF 50 blocks about 99% of UVB rays.
  • Apply liberally every two hours. To achieve the full SPF benefit, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends using one ounce (a shot glassful) of sunscreen on your body and one teaspoonful (size of a quarter) on your face. If applied too thinly, an SPF 80 can act like an SPF 3.
  • Ingredients matter. Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are active ingredients in mineral-based sunscreens, which physically block both UVB and UVA rays and are gentle enough for sensitive skin. Acknowledged by experts and the FDA, chemical blockers (like avobenzone) absorb well into skin and offer excellent protection against UVA rays.
  • Check the expiration date. Fresh ingredients make sunscreen more effective. Keep your bottle in the shade and avoid leaving it in a hot car, as excessive heat can break down the active ingredients.
  • Apply rain or shine. While UVB rays are at their peak midday, UVA rays are present from sunrise to sunset and can penetrate your skin even on cloudy days—who knew? We recommend applying broad spectrum sunscreen every morning, 15-30 minutes before heading outside.

Get to know your ideal sunscreen and combine it with other sun protection measures to stay ahead of melanoma. Wear a broad-brimmed hat and protective clothing when you step out of the shade. Even better, stay out of the sun altogether and use sunless tan products for a healthy, natural-looking glow—and show off your sun savvy.

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